“What if we got to the wedding and the flower girl didn’t show up and I fit in her dress and got to do it? Wouldn’t that be great?” The smile on ONE’s face was dreamy, romantic. I smiled too, but only because I was imagining what would be going through the bride’s mind if that actually happened.
“I want to be a flower girl, too! Why does she get to be the flower girl?” asked TWO.
“We could both do it!” announced ONE. They danced around and practiced throwing what looked like invisible rocks. Clearly they’d only attended weddings sponsored by the Barbie bin.
Until this weekend we’d never brought them with us to a wedding, even when they were invited. For me it was a combination of not wanting to entertain or distract bored kids on the happiest day of someone else’s life, and wanting to enjoy how sentimantal weddings make me. (I really like being sentimental.) But this wedding was different. They knew both the bride and groom and were abuzz with excitement. I’m not sure what they were expecting, other than a last-minute invite to join the bridal party, but their anticipation neared Christmas Eve level. They ordered matching braids and pink dresses and giggled the whole way there, ready for, “You never know, Mama.”
It was a beautiful, outdoor wedding in Annapolis, Maryland. It was right on the water and leaves fell from the trees during the ceremony.
Disappointment kicked in for the girls pretty much the moment we took our seats and they realized that there wouldn’t be a need for them to save the day. That the only activities they’d be engaging in were sitting still and paying attention. Activities they felt ill-prepared for, despite having been reminded (daily) that this would be the extent of their roles during the ceremony.
While the couple exchanged vows, and my daughters had two accidental underwear flashes and a gum funeral, it dawned on me that eventually there would be dancing. Normally this wouldn’t matter. My husband and I are more of a seat-warming couple, and we do it well. But our girls? They’d already done their sitting time. Suddenly I knew. Oh I knew. I was going to be dancing.
Hope that such a public display wouldn’t be necessary sprouted after the ceremony. There were swings and few other kids to share them with. Endless amounts of rocks to throw into the water and a huge field to run in. Fruit instead of salad, chicken fingers and mac-and-cheese instead of crab cakes, and even sparkling cider. It was, quite possibly, the most kid-friendly wedding I’ve ever attended.
Then the music changed from background to focal and two things happened.
First, TWO took off for the water. As it turned out, loud music inspired her to flee. That’s my girl.
And then ONE spotted someone on the dance floor that she “wanted to say ‘hi’ to.” Honestly, this child is so extroverted she’s like staring directly into the sun. And she looked great out there. Simultaneously moving to the music, and to the beat of her own drum, even though the two rhythms weren’t quite in sync. Kid dancers are awesome.
But to a non-dancer? They’re a Code Red, Level 4 Threat. Especially when their dance partners want to dance with, say, other adults. I knew what was coming. Felt the flutter in my gut. Grabbed the champaign to toast myself as I waited for her to seek me out as a substitution. And I thought about all of the weddings I’ve attended. Parties I’ve gone to. Events where I’ve declined to dance. Not because I can’t dance, but because I tend to quit things ahead of time unless I know for a fact that I’m really good at them. (Perfectionism makes for a very restrictive, somewhat sedentary lifestyle.)
But like so many other times as a mom, my children have handed me chances to press the restart button and reinvent tiny pieces of myself. She didn’t know I “don’t dance.” That I haven’t felt comfortable on any kind of dance floor since I was her age. She didn’t care what I looked like, or whether or not my moves peaked with “Whoomp There It Is.” It wouldn’t be about me, the way it was in my head. Because like everyone else out there, she just wanted to dance. To be silly. And she wanted someone with her. This time it was me. It was my chance to start over. But if I said no, next time it might be someone else.
She spotted me. I submitted to eye contact. And in the moment it took her to rush over and grab my arm with the manic and absolute need to get back to the crowd before she went into withdrawal, I decided to join her. I knew I would. Sometimes being socially introverted is really boring. I stood as she begged, and the gleam in her eyes filled me with enough of a buzz to rush back with her and dance.
And we danced. And laughed. And danced some more. And bounced and spun and not a single person looked at me. They all looked at her, and she carried the weight of their eyes and smiles, feeding on their attention like the extroverted champ that she is. That’s my girl.
It was so freeing to be out there instead of watching from the seats. Engaged in my daughter’s world, and the part of my own world I’d excluded myself from years ago when I became self-conscious. Oftentimes I struggle with how much of myself I’ve given up to be a mom. Time, bits of dreams, sleep, ideas I had of who I was, pieces of me that will never fit again…but every once in a while I get a piece back that fits much better then it ever fit before.
You just never know.
©2012 CEK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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